Espresso And Machine

Artisanal baristas curating a cortado and flat white with latte art.

Cortado vs Flat White: What’s the Difference?


  • Cortados have equal parts espresso and steamed milk, while flat whites have a double shot of espresso and more milk
  • Cortados are stronger than flat whites, with a higher coffee-to-milk ratio
  • Cortado cup size is smaller, about 4-5 ounces, while flat whites can be 6-8 ounces
  • Cortados are often served in a glass, while flat whites come in ceramic cups
  • Both drinks have a silky microfoam, but the cortado has a thin layer of foam on top while the flat white's layer is thicker
  • Cortados originated in Spain, while the flat white's origin story is disputed between Australia and New Zealand
  • Full-fat dairy milk is commonly used for both drinks
  • Cortado milk is steamed to 150°F with little froth, while flat white milk is steamed to 160°F with slightly more froth
  • Both drinks can showcase latte art, with flat whites having more intricate designs due to their thicker foam layer
  • Other popular coffee types include macchiato, cappuccino, and latte
  • Cortado and flat white have a well-balanced coffee experience, with cortado being smoother and punchier than a macchiato and less robust than a latte, while flat white is creamier than a cortado and more refined than a cappuccino
  • Cortado and flat white complement sweet and savory treats

Gear up, coffee fanatics! It's time to dive into the cortado vs flat white showdown and uncover the key differences that make each brew unique. Get ready to expand your coffee lingo and discover your new go-to favorite for a delightful caffeine fix. So come on, let's master our home barista skills and make better coffee for a remarkable experience!

What are the main differences between a cortado and a flat white?

Let's dive into the key differences between cortado and flat white! There are five main points to compare:

  1. Proportions of coffee and milk: A cortado has equal parts espresso and steamed milk, creating a bolder taste. The flat white, though, has a double shot of espresso and more milk, giving it a creamier flavor.

  2. Coffee strength: Is a cortado stronger than a flat white? Yes! The higher coffee-to-milk ratio in cortados makes them punchier. Flat whites have a smoother, velvety taste.

  3. Size of the drinks: Cortado cup size is usually smaller, about 4-5 ounces. Flat white cup size can be 6-8 ounces, providing a larger drink to savor.

  1. Serving style: A cortado is often served in a glass, revealing its beautiful layers. Flat whites come in ceramic cups, similar to lattes and cappuccinos.

  2. Foam consistency: Both drinks have a silky microfoam, but the cortado has a thin layer of foam on top. The flat white's thick layer adds a luxurious mouthfeel.

A great example is the difference between Starbucks flat white and cortado. Starbucks serves its flat white with two ristretto shots and more milk than a cortado, creating a larger and creamier beverage. Cortados, in comparison, are stronger and smaller.

When choosing between a cortado vs flat white, go for a cortado to embrace a more intense espresso/milk combo. But if a creamier, more velvety experience is your jam, pick a flat white. Remember, these differences in cortado and flat white are what make our coffee world diverse and delicious!

How do the origins and history of cortado and flat white differ?

To understand the key differences between cortado and flat white, let's go back in time and explore their origins. The history of cortado goes back to Spain, where it's called "cortado," meaning "cut" in Spanish. The idea behind this coffee delight is to "cut" the bold espresso shots with a touch of warm milk, making the drink more balanced and easier to sip. This magic potion soon gained fame and spread all over Latin America with slight variations in names and serving styles.

On the other hand, the flat white has a unique origin story, with both Australia and New Zealand claiming to have invented it in the 1980s. Regardless of the dispute between these two nations, the flat white was born as a response to the need for a creamier, smoother, and more refined version of the cappuccino. Their goal was to create a coffee drink that showcased the rich flavors of espresso beautifully blended with velvety milk, all cradled within a smaller, more concentrated cup.

The evolution of cortado and flat white serving styles happened mostly in speciality cafes and renowned coffee shops. For instance, in Spain, a cortado is typically served in a small glass, while in Portugal, the "pingado" is poured into a ceramic cup. In English-speaking countries, cortado can often be served in traditional cups or small glasses. On the flip side, flat white presentation is more consistent across the world, serving in a smaller cup than a latte or cappuccino, with an attractive layer of creamy microfoam poured over the espresso.

As for the cultural impact, both the cortado and flat white are celebrated for their unique ratios of coffee to milk. The cortado resonates with those who love a bold espresso with a hint of milk to soften the strong taste. The flat white, on the other hand, is all about highlighting the perfect harmony of rich espresso and velvety milk. These charming creations inspired coffee aficionados around the world to appreciate the art of espresso-making and milk-steaming, pushing baristas to refine their skills.

In conclusion, the distinctive origins of cortado and flat white make each drink unique in its own right. Both beverages offer a beautiful blend of bold espresso and smooth milk, but their histories and cultural impacts show just how diverse the world of coffee can be. That's something I always find fascinating when I sit down to enjoy my favorite brew.

How are cortado and flat white made? Comparing techniques and practices

When making cortado and flat white, the key factors include milk, steaming, frothing, foam, and art. First, let's discuss choosing the right milk. Commonly, both cortado and flat white use full-fat dairy milk for a creamy, rich mouthfeel. But, if you prefer a different milk type, you can experiment to find your perfect combo!

Now, let's touch upon steaming and frothing methods. When making a cortado, the milk is steamed to about 150°F (65°C) with little froth. This gives it a velvety texture without a thick foam layer. A flat white, on the other hand, has milk steamed to around 160°F (71°C) and contains a bit more froth, leading to a slightly thicker foam cap on top.

When it comes to barista techniques for creating the perfect foam, both cortado and flat white require attention to detail. A cortado has a minimal foam layer, so the milk must be properly steamed and aerated at a low speed. Flat whites need slightly more foam, but not as much as a cappuccino. So, a higher speed of steaming is used, creating a foam that's still thinner than a cappuccino.

Finally, the art of pouring! While pouring isn't essential for taste, it demonstrates a skillful barista. Both cortado and flat white can showcase latte art, though flat whites often have more intricate designs due to their thicker foam layer. The techniques for each drink are similar, but the outcome may vary due to the foam depth and texture.

So, what's the difference between a cortado and a macchiato? A cortado is an espresso with an equal part steamed milk, while a macchiato has a small dollop of foamed milk on top. The cortado has a smoother, creamier texture, while the macchiato remains quite bold and intense.

By understanding the techniques and practices of cortado and flat white, you can truly appreciate the barista's skills and knowledge. Grab your favorite cup, and enjoy the fruits of their labor!

As a coffee lover, you've surely heard of other coffee types. Let's clarify some of the most popular ones: macchiato, cappuccino, and latte. We'll compare their taste and preparation with cortado and flat white to help you pick your perfect brew.

Macchiato hails from Italy and means "stained" or "spotted." It's espresso with a small dollop of foamed milk. This tiny bit of milk is the "stain," which softens the espresso's strong taste. Comparing cortado vs macchiato, the cortado has more milk, making it smoother than the punchier macchiato.

Cappuccino is also Italian-born. It's a mix of espresso, steamed milk, and frothy milk foam in equal parts. The foam sits on top, creating a cozy, velvety layer. With cortado vs cappuccino, the cappuccino has more foam than the cortado, making it softer on the palate.

As for latte, it's a larger drink with Italian roots too. It consists of espresso and steamed milk, topped with a little foamed milk. A latte has more milk than a cappuccino or cortado, making it even creamier and less robust in taste, perfect for those who enjoy a milder coffee experience.

Now, let's compare cortado vs flat white against these popular coffee types. In terms of strength, cortado and flat white are somewhat in the middle between the sharp macchiato and the mild latte, providing a well-balanced coffee experience. Regarding popularity, both cortado and flat white are gaining fans worldwide as more people are eager to explore new coffee drinks.

As for pairings, cortado and flat white both complement sweet and savory treats, like buttery croissants or fruity scones, due to their smoother, balanced taste. Macchiato goes nicely with biscotti, while cappuccino and latte suit more delicate pastries such as apple strudel.

In conclusion, cortado and flat white hold their own against these other delicious coffee types. Now that you know the differences in taste, preparation, and ideal pairings, you're one step closer to finding the perfect brew just for you. Happy sipping!


You now know the differences between cortado and flat white. By following our expert advice, you'll be able to make the perfect coffee. Understanding coffee preparation techniques and origins will help you talk confidently with your friends about coffee. You can impress them with your newfound knowledge! Our blog is here to expand your understanding of the coffee world, make your coffee experience better, and help you feel confident. Great coffee is waiting for you to make it at home.

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